Solar thermal power plants – principle © Siemens Stiftung 2017 CC BY-SA 4.0 international

Solar thermal power plants – principle


Labeled graphic:
The physical principles of a parabolic trough power plant and a Dish-Stirling plant in comparison.

English, Spanish (CREA), German
Image (186.4 kByte)
Power plants for generating electric power from solar heat are increasingly being built. The graphic shows two methods of construction which have now become established.
Parabolic trough power plan: A large solar power plant, the capacity of which is comparable with that of coal power plants. Long lines of parabolic mirrors have an absorber tube at their focal point which is filled with a working medium. Using a heat exchanger, the hot working medium generates steam which can then be used to operate large steam turbines and generators.
Dish-Stirling plant: A smaller power plant in which the central element is a large, round hollow mirror (dish). At its focal point there is the working cylinder of a Stirling motor which drives a generator. The most efficient power plant of this type at the moment is the Euro Dish-Stirling type plant.

Information and ideas:
Solar thermal power plants also include the “solar chimney power plant", the “solar furnace" and the “tower power plant". How are these power plants designed and how do they work? In which regions of the world do we find solar thermal power plants, and of what type? Further information on solar thermal power plants is given in the guideline “Renewable Energies".
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Physics; Technology
Grade 5 to 6; Grade 7 to 9; Grade 10 to 13
Middle/high school; Vocational training
Ecology; Engine; Environment (general); Environmental protection; Optics; Power generation; Power plant; Renewable energy; Solar energy; Stirling, Robert; Ecology (environmental protection); Electric power generation; Environment; Heat generation; Renewable energy; Solar heat; Solar power plant; Stirling engine
Siemens Stiftung Media Portal
MediaHouse GmbH using material from: By Z22 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, (Parabolrinnen-Solarkollektor; license: CC BY-SA 3.0), Björn Appel, Username Warden, CC BY-SA 3.0, (Eurodish; license: CC BY-SA 3.0)
© Siemens Stiftung 2017
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